What's A QR Code? - Feb 2017
The chances are you've walked past a QR Code or come into contact with one recently, possibly without noticing. But what exactly are QR Codes?
Very simply, they are barcodes, not too dissimilar to the barcodes you seen on the packaging of almost every product you buy. The main different between QR Codes and what you may refer to as a traditional barcode, is that QR Codes can store many times more data in a much smaller surface area. This is due to their ability to store data in 2 dimensions rather than 1.
On the off chance that you haven't seen one before, here’s a working one. If you already know how to use a QR code, then go ahead and scan it right from the screen. For those of you completely new to QR Codes, then to read the data stored within a QR Code you will need a scanner of some sort. You don't need special, dedicated or expensive hardware to read a QR Code, scanners can be as simple as an app on your smartphone that uses the camera and some decoding algorithm.
QR Codes offer a number of advantages over traditional barcodes, these help increase flexibility, reliability and ease of use. These advantages help to reduced the cost of implementation which has helped drive QR Codes popularity. Here is a list of only a few of those advantages:
- High Capacity - store a lot more data, allowing for real content to be stored and not just IDs or references.
- Require Less Space - Get the same data stored over a much smaller surface area.
- Dust And Damage Resistant - Even when damaged there is a chance they are still readable.
- Readable From Any Direction - Scan them from any angle, readers don't need to be aligned to the orientation of the code.
- Structured Appending - Data can be split over multiple codes which when scanned can be combined to reconstruct the original content.
QR Codes started out in the East where they quickly became very popular, but within a few years their popularity exploded worldwide, this was driven mainly by the fact they are so easy to scan as well as being easy for anybody to create. QR Codes are appearing everywhere with many creative uses, today they can be found in magazines, newspapers, food packaging, supermarkets, games and on giant billboards. They are flexible, very cheap and their scope of use is very large.
The entire purpose of a QR Code is to quickly and easily get data from a printed medium to a digital medium such as a barcode scanner or your smartphone where it can be processed. This can be for simple stock taking or to provide digital contents to support an experience or physical product. Compatibility is key to the rising popularity, and the availability of free scanners on all the major smartphone platforms means almost everyone has their own scanner on an internet connected device at all times.
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